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Tension High, Strike Possible, In CCTA Contract Negotiation

The Chittenden County Transportation Authority management and drivers are “really far apart” in contract negotiations and the drivers could strike if a Friday meeting doesn’t lead to a resolution, officials on both sides of the negotiations say.

The drivers are coordinating with Workers Center, a liberal advocacy organization, to hold a press event Wednesday outlining their problems with the management contract proposal.

Contract negotiations broke down in late summer over differences on “discipline, working conditions and hours” according to a spokesman for the Teamsters Local 597 Union, which represents the drivers.

Matt McGrath, a Workers’ Center employee, said Tuesday that management and drivers are “really far apart on many items, mostly related to working conditions.”

Neither side has confirmed that a strike is likely or planned, but both acknowledge that it is a possibility.

McGrath said the drivers will “probably not” launch a strike at Wednesday’s event, and that he is not aware of definite plans to strike.

Meredith Birkett, the director of service development for CCTA, said both sides have agreed to a negotiation session on Friday with a mediator.

“At present, CCTA is focused on making Friday’s mediated session as fruitful as possible and remains hopeful that we will be able to come to an agreement on a new three-year collective bargaining agreement,” Birkett said in an email to VPR.

If the negotiations fail, Birkett wrote,  and “there is the potential for a strike in the short-term, CCTA will provide specific information to our passengers and the public about the impact on service at that time.”

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